So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
This has been a challenging few weeks for me and my church family. Sometimes you don’t realize how much people really mean to you until they aren’t there anymore. It’s not that you didn’t love them and spend time with them. Their absence just leaves a chasm. She was the first friend I made when we moved to Atlanta. She and I were young wives with small babies. We were both older sisters – we each had one sister. The responsibility that is placed on the oldest daughter is special because you are expected to emulate your mom. This was true of my friend. We were both members of the women’s Sunday School class, better known as the Sister Circle. We looked forward to her contributions to our Sunday School discussions especially after her mom’s passing.
You never saw her “broke-down” comfortable. I will through on some jeans and a tee shirt, with my hair in a ponytail in a minute on the weekend. She was always classy, even when she was casual. She had a soft, calm demeanor – almost in a way that she wouldn’t defend herself. There were several times when she would have been rightfully outraged. That was just not the way she handled things. She always seemed to be in control – a characteristic I really admired.
She was a woman of faith through all of the struggles she went through getting her children through college. Down through the years we encouraged each other, especially when she unexpectedly became a single parent. When her oldest daughter graduated from college, she asked me if I would drive her to the ceremony. It is just so funny how things happen in life. She also had some work experiences that were less than ideal. Her response was always as a servant of God. There were times when we would get together and she could download some of her frustrations, but even in those times, she made sure to keep a cadence of excellence.
The day my youngest was headed to the airport to spend a year teaching English in Thailand, she called to see if she could come over. She didn’t get a chance to say goodbye when we had the ice cream send-off at church. I especially appreciated her visit because although I was calm and cool on the outside, my insides were feeling the strain of sending my youngest child to a new country with different customs and where I couldn’t get to him within a few hours. The government had just been overthrown by the military and we were trying to make decisions on whether he should go on this trip with his fellow recent graduates. From a natural perspective we had some assurances that if the students were in danger, they would be under the protection of the US Consulate and taken to an airport where they could be flown to safety (Europe). The Thai director was especially interested in my son helping with the Christian church in Northern Thailand. It was a small church in a mostly Buddhist/Hindu environment. That “assignment” was instrumental in deciding that he would go, but sometimes your body needs to catch up with your faith on these types of decisions. One thing was clear, we never allow fear to keep us from the work of the Lord. Her presence was so calming and soothing - just what we needed. I’d made some fresh fruit salad so we enjoyed that while we talked.
I believe God put us together very purposefully. When she turned 55 we planned to get some of our Sunday School sisters together and enjoyed a play and the next week dinner with her children and her godchild (my middle son.)
About a year ago she gave me this present. She didn’t need to, there was no special occasion, but it was just another example of her kind heart. When someone passes away in my church, I go through my pictures to share with the family. They often end up in the video tribute or in the program. It is at that moment that I think of the pictures that I didn’t take. I have plenty of pictures of her and her beautiful family, but just a few pictures of the two of us. Her presence, spirit and kindness will always be treasured. To tell you the truth, I haven’t really come to grips with her passing. During her "homegoing", her brother told a wonderful story of how she had never been on a cruise (neither have I) but her family members had all gone, some several times. He equated her leaving, with the Lord taking her on the Old Ship of Zion. We really celebrated that!
I was depending on her to be around to help occupy our version of the Golden Girls suite (the Bronze Girls) at assisted living place us old biddies end up in. We were depending on her to keep us in line. Oh well, the sky is the limited now. There is no telling how rambunctious we will be in our eighties. She won’t have to worry about any of that now. Her passing has reminded me how precious life is and how you should treasure each day.